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Oregon Drivers of Eco-Friendly Vehicles may Face 'Alternative Per Mile' Tax

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Drivers of electric or efficient vehicles may be saving at the gas pump, but now eco-friendly drivers in Oregon may be facing a new tax designed to subsidize road maintenance.

Traditionally the government has collected money from the gasoline pump as a way to pay for fixing and building roads. However, New and efficient vehicles have been able to bypass the gas pump and thus avoided paying their share of road maintenance costs.

The Oregon state legislature is considering a bill that would make drivers of vehicles that get 55 or more miles per gallon pay a per-mile alternative tax. The mileage for each driver will most likely be tracked through a global positioning system technology, and drivers will have an option of paying an annual fee for miles driven.

The alternative tax will undermine one of the biggest incentives of purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle — having to pay less for fuel. It also discourages the progress automobile companies have made in making America less gasoline-dependent.

“It will be one more obstacle that the industry and auto dealers will face in convincing consumers to buy these new cars,” said Paul Cosgrove, a lobbyist for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Washington has already approved a similar tax that will charge electric vehicle owners a per-mile tax starting in February.

Rep. Vicki Berger of Salem, a member of the state’s Road User Fee Task Force, said, “There's a basic unfairness around that tax, and everyone is looking for the magic way to at least get the ball rolling on a different way of doing this, one that reconnects mileage with taxes paid.”

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